The government is broadening its support for pharmaceutical companies to enable them to inject fresh investments into manufacturing, President John Dramani Mahama has stated.
In line with that the President said, “I have directed the Export, Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Development Fund (EDAIF) to make available $45 million to the local pharmaceutical industry to put it on a right footing as part of measures to promote industrialisation.”
The President said this in an address read on his behalf at the opening of the West African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association’s (WAPMA) Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Accra last Tuesday.
The conference was held on the theme: “Meeting the medicine needs of West Africa through local pharmaceutical production.”
Delegates at the conference used the platform provided to deliberate on the associations’s achievements and map out the way to accelerate its vision of achieving unhindered self-sufficiency in the provision of the highest quality, efficacious, safe and affordable medicines through collaboration and harmonisation of policies and practices and the elimination of trade barriers.
President Mahama said practical policies being pursued by the government were to ensure that the national market share of pharmaceuticals was increased from the current 30 per cent to above 60 per cent by 2020.
As a result, the government passed the Value Added Tax (VAT) amendment Law, Act 590 to increase the number of active pharmaceutical ingredients, selected inputs and pharmaceuticals on the tax exemption list from 66 to over 510 in 2015, he said.
The amendment of the law is expected to boost the medicine and pharmaceutical industry by making the prices of locally manufactured pharmaceuticals very competitive.
“That will also facilitate the local industry’s efforts to trade on the regional market,” the President added.
President Mahama said the VAT exemptions would make locally produced pharmaceuticals more affordable to ensure that the cost of medicines on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was reduced appreciably.
On other interventions, the President stated: “The government has made available US$27 million to some local pharmaceutical companies to assist them to re-tool to attain the World Health Organisation (WHO) certification.”
That, President Mahama said, would enable the local industry to gain access to the global market.
The Director-General of the West African Health Organisation, Dr Xavier Crespin, said medicine security in the region was a major challenge.
“Over 70 per cent of medicines used in the region are imported, making their safety and efficacy uncertain and a major issue to deal with,” he said.
On access to medicine in West Africa, Dr Crespin said it was very low and, therefore, local production and effective regulation needed to be improved tremendously.
“Imagine a day that the international suppliers decide to cut supply of essential medicines; this will be detrimental to Africa’s healthcare system. We must see it as a real possibility that calls for action,” he advised.
Welcoming delegates and guests to the event, the President of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana (PMAG), Mr Ernest Bediako Sampong, said the association would work relentlessly to ensure that West Africa’s medicine needs were met through local production.
He thanked President Mahama for the support and promised that the industry would live up to its national and international obligations and expectations.
For his part, the WHO representative to Ghana, Dr Owen Laws Kaluwa, said because of the huge burden of diseases on Africa, the association needed to ensure pharmaceutical sufficiency, good quality, efficacious and affordable medicines.
“It is important to note that developing the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector is a complex undertaking which requires players to comply with acceptable international standards, while ensuring that such production is economically viable,” he said.